Famous 19th Century Historians

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century Historians, including H. G. Wells, Friedrich Hayek, Alexis de Tocqueville, Stefan Zweig and Alfred Thayer Mahan.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Karl Marx

Karl Marx
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: May 5, 1818
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Trier, Germany
Died: March 14, 1883

Karl Marx, the philosopher, economist, political theorist and socialist revolutionary, is best-known for the 1848 pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto and the three-volume Das Kapital. His theories, called Marxism, maintained that class conflict leads to the development of human societies and that internal tension were inherent in capitalism, which would ultimately be replaced by the socialist mode of production.

 2 Leopold von Ranke

Leopold von Ranke
4
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 21, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wiehe, Roßleben-Wiehe, Germany
Died: May 23, 1886

Leopold von Ranke was a German historian who had a major influence on Western historiography. A respected historian, Ranke is credited with founding modern source-based history. When he was ennobled in 1865, honors poured in from several historians and scholars across the world.

 3 Max Weber

Max Weber
4
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: April 21, 1864
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Erfurt, Germany
Died: June 14, 1920

Max Weber was a German historian, political economist, jurist, and sociologist. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and important theorists, Weber's ideas had a profound influence on social research and social theory. Although he did not see himself as a sociologist, Weber is often counted among the fathers of sociology alongside Émile Durkheim, Auguste Comte, and Karl Marx.

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 4 H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells
5
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 21, 1866
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bromley, Kent, England
Died: August 13, 1946

H. G. Wells was an English writer. Although he was prolific in many genres, he is best remembered for his work on sci-fi novels, for which he is often referred to as the father of science fiction. His 1901 novel The First Men in the Moon became so influential that a lunar impact crater is named after him.

 5 Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: July 29, 1805
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 16, 1859

French diplomat and political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville is best remembered for his written works The Old Regime and the Revolution and Democracy in America. He was part of French politics, primarily during the July Monarchy and the Second Republic. He had been the minister of foreign affairs briefly.

 6 Peter Kropotkin

Peter Kropotkin
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Famous As: Anarchist, Socialist & Historian
Birthdate: December 9, 1842
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: February 8, 1921

Russian philosopher Peter Kropotkin was a passionate advocate of anarcho-communism. He was also an activist, revolutionary, economist, and sociologist. He was arrested and imprisoned for his activism in 1874. However, he managed to escape and lived in exile for over 40 years in different countries across Europe. He returned to Russia after the Russian Revolution in 1917. 

 7 E. H. Carr

E. H. Carr
4
Famous As: Historian, Journalist, Diplomat, Writer, Political scientist, Professor
Birthdate: June 28, 1892
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London
Died: November 3, 1982
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 8 Frederick Jackson Turner

Frederick Jackson Turner
4
Famous As: Historian, Writer
Birthdate: November 14, 1861
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Portage
Died: March 14, 1932

Frederick Jackson Turner was an American historian who was closely associated with the University of Wisconsin as well as Harvard University. Turner is credited with training and mentoring several PhDs who went on to become respected historians in their own right. Best remembered for his Frontier Thesis, Frederick Jackson Turner had a strong influence on historians, novelists, and filmmakers.

 9 Friedrich Engels

Friedrich Engels
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: November 28, 1820
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Barmen, Germany
Died: August 4, 1895

Friedrich Engels was a German philosopher, political scientist, and revolutionary socialist. Along with Karl Marx, Engels helped develop Marxism, which has had a profound impact on fields like philosophy and anthropology. Engels is credited with helping Marx publish Das Kapital, a foundational theoretical work in politics, economics, and materialist philosophy. He also co-authored influential political documents like The Communist Manifesto.

 10 Stamford Raffles

Stamford Raffles
4
Famous As: Former Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies
Birthdate: July 6, 1781
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Port Morant, Jamaica
Died: July 5, 1826

Stamford Raffles was a British statesman who served as the Lieutenant-Governor of the Dutch East Indies from 1811 to 1816. From 1818 to 1824, he served as the Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen. Raffles is best remembered for founding the Straits Settlements and modern Singapore. He also played a major role in the invasion of Java in 1811 during the Napoleonic Wars.

 11 Jacob Burckhardt

Jacob Burckhardt
3
Famous As: Art historian, Historian of the modern age, Journalist, Historian, University teacher
Birthdate: May 25, 1818
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Basel
Died: August 8, 1897

 12 Jules Michelet

Jules Michelet
3
Famous As: Historian, Archivist, Writer, Diarist, Professor, Translator
Birthdate: August 21, 1798
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris
Died: February 9, 1874

Jules Michelet was a French author and historian best remembered for his work on the history and culture of France. Jules Michelet is credited with defining the term renaissance, which was originally used by Italian historian and painter Giorgio Vasari in 1550. The term is currently used to identify the period that followed the Middle Ages in Europe's cultural history.

 13 Oswald Spengler

Oswald Spengler
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Famous As: Historian, Philosopher
Birthdate: May 29, 1880
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Blankenburg, Germany
Died: May 8, 1936

German historian Oswald Spengler is best remembered for his iconic The Decline of the West, which had a huge influence on social theory. He believed that culture cannot be transferred and that it can only decline and decay like an organism. He lived his final years in isolation in Munich.

 14 Johan Huizinga

Johan Huizinga
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Famous As: Cultural historian, Historian, University teacher, Philosopher
Birthdate: December 7, 1872
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Groningen
Died: February 1, 1945

 15 Thomas Babington Macaulay

Thomas Babington Macaulay
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: October 25, 1800
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Leicestershire, England
Died: December 28, 1859

A prominent Whig and essayist Thomas Babington Macaulay is best remembered for his 5-volume History of England. Though a qualified lawyer, he never took it up as a career. As part of his administrative work in India later, he introduced English as the chief medium of instruction in schools.

 16 Lord Acton

Lord Acton
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Birthdate: January 10, 1834
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Naples
Died: June 19, 1902

Lord Acton was an English Catholic historian, writer, and politician. Born to a prominent family in Naples, he was the son of a British baronet. He studied at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, where he developed a deep love of historical research. After building a career as a historian and writer, he ventured into politics as well. 

 17 Karl Polanyi

Karl Polanyi
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Famous As: Economist, Anthropologist, Economic historian, Historian, Journalist, Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Sociologist
Birthdate: October 25, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: April 23, 1964

Apart from being a political economist, Karl Polanyi was also a prominent Hungarian political leader. The Great Transformation remains his best-known work. He taught at institutes such as the Columbia University and is known for proposing the idea of a cultural version of economics known as substantivism.

 18 George Washington Williams

George Washington Williams
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Famous As: Soldier, Historian, Diplomat, Writer, Minister, Politician, Journalist
Birthdate: October 16, 1849
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bedford
Died: August 2, 1891

A laborer’s son, George Washington Williams had been a Union Army soldier during the American Civil War, when he was barely 14. He had then been a Baptist minister, a politician, a lecturer, a lawyer, and a journalist, but is best remembered for being the first to write about Black history.

 19 Archibald Gracie IV

Archibald Gracie IV
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Famous As: historian, writer
Birthdate: January 17, 1859
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mobile
Died: December 4, 1912

Best known as the author of The Truth About The Titanic (currently Titanic: A Survivor's Story), Archibald Gracie IV was one of the few who survived the sinking of RMS Titanic. Beginning his career as colonel of the 7th New York Militia, he later became a real estate agent, concurrently carrying out researches on history, particularly the Battle of Chickamauga.

 20 Henry Adams

Henry Adams
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: February 16, 1838
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
Died: March 27, 1918

Historian Henry Adams was part of the famous Adams political family of the U.S and a typical Boston Brahmin elite. His best-known work remains his posthumously published autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams, which won a Pulitzer Prize. He also taught medieval history at Harvard.

 21 François-René de Chateaubriand

François-René de Chateaubriand
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 4, 1768
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Saint-Malo, France
Died: July 4, 1848

François-René de Chateaubriand was a French writer, diplomat, historian, and politician. Chateaubriand had a major influence on 19th-century French literature. François-René de Chateaubriand is also remembered for defending the Catholic faith by writing The Genius of Christianity when most intellectuals were turning against the Church. Chateaubriand was a food enthusiast; it is believed that Chateaubriand steak is named after him.

 22 Lothrop Stoddard

Lothrop Stoddard
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Famous As: Anthropologist, Political scientist, Historian, Author, Journalist, Opinion journalist
Birthdate: June 29, 1883
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brookline
Died: May 1, 1950

Twentieth-century American political scientist and historian Lothrop Stoddard was a Ku Klux Klan and believed in eugenics, a theory that promoted the superiority certain races based on genetics. His book The Revolt Against Civilization introduced neo-Nazi concepts. He also covered World War II as a journalist.

 23 Karl Pearson

Karl Pearson
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Famous As: Mathematician, Historian of mathematics, Statistician, Historian, Philosopher, Biographer
Birthdate: March 27, 1857
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London
Died: April 27, 1936

One of the greatest statisticians of all time, Karl Pearson established the first university-level statistics department at UCL and also launched the statistics-oriented journal Biometrika. He was also well-versed in law and believed in eugenics. His The Grammar of Science later inspired Albert Einstein and other scientists.

 24 Harriet Martineau

Harriet Martineau
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Famous As: Linguist, Journalist, Economist, Historian, Translator, Writer, Sociologist, Essayist, Feminist
Birthdate: June 12, 1802
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Norwich
Died: June 27, 1876

Regarded by many as the first female sociologist, Harriet Martineau was a prominent 19th-century social theorist, classical economist, and intellectual who penned the iconic work The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte. She was partially deaf and had lost her sense of taste and smell in childhood.

 25 Gustave Le Bon

Gustave Le Bon
4
Famous As: Physician, Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Psychologist, Philosopher, Historian, Sociologist
Birthdate: May 7, 1841
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nogent-le-Rotrou
Died: December 13, 1931

French social psychologist Gustave Le Bon is best remembered for his research on crowd psychology. In his iconic work La psychologie des foules, or The Crowd, he stated that people are driven by their emotions and not by their intellect when they act as part of a crowd.

 26 John Buchan

John Buchan
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 26, 1875
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Perth, Scotland
Died: February 11, 1940

Apart from being a Unionist politician who had also been the Governor General of Canada, John Buchan was also a notable writer of adventure fiction, thrillers, and historical novels. Best known for his novel The Thirty-Nine Steps, he also penned a 24-volume history of World War I.

 27 Adolphe Thiers

Adolphe Thiers
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: April 15, 1797
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bouc-Bel-Air, France
Died: September 3, 1877

Adolphe Thiers was a French historian and statesman who served as the French Third Republic's first President. He also served as the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of France in 1840. Apart from playing a major role in the French Revolution of 1830, which ended the Bourbon monarchy, Thiers also played a key role in the French Revolution of 1848.

 28 G. M. Trevelyan

G. M. Trevelyan
3
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: February 16, 1876
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Warwickshire, England
Died: July 21, 1962

 29 B. H. Liddell Hart

B. H. Liddell Hart
3
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: October 31, 1895
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 29, 1970

Also known as Captain B. H., soldier and historian B. H. Liddell Hart is best remembered for his research on military theory and his book Strategy. He was against frontal attack as a war strategy. He had also been part of the Battle of the Somme and was later knighted.

 30 Mahadev Govind Ranade

Mahadev Govind Ranade
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Famous As: Judge, Social Reformer
Birthdate: January 18, 1842
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Niphad
Died: January 16, 1901

Mahadev Govind Ranade was an Indian social reformer, scholar, author, and judge. Ranade is credited with co-founding the Indian National Congress as well as founding several organizations like the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, Widow Marriage Association, and Vaktruttvottejak Sabha. He also contributed as an editor of a nationalist publication named Induprakash.

 31 Lewis Mumford

Lewis Mumford
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Famous As: Architect, Historian of technology, Historian, Sociologist, Screenwriter, Literary critic, Philosopher, Journalist
Birthdate: October 19, 1895
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City
Died: January 26, 1990

Lewis Mumford was an American sociologist, historian, literary critic, and philosopher of technology. He made significant contributions to American literary and cultural history, social philosophy, and the history of technology. His works also influenced a number of thinkers and authors like Jacques Ellul and Amory Lovins. Lewis Mumford also had a strong influence on American cellular biologist Barry Commoner.

 32 Henri Pirenne

Henri Pirenne
3
Famous As: medievalist, historian, university teacher
Birthdate: December 23, 1862
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Verviers
Died: October 25, 1935

 33 Ananda Coomaraswamy

Ananda Coomaraswamy
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: August 22, 1877
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Colombo, Sri Lanka
Died: September 9, 1947

Ananda Coomaraswamy was a Ceylonese Tamil philosopher of Indian art, metaphysician, and pioneering historian. He is credited for being one of the earliest interpreters of Indian culture to the West. He is also held responsible for introducing ancient Indian art to the West. Apart from bridging the gap between East and West, Coomaraswamy's works also aimed at rehabilitating original Buddhism.

 34 Madison Grant

Madison Grant
3
Famous As: Lawyer, Anthropologist, Racial theorist, Historian, Zoologist
Birthdate: November 19, 1865
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New York City
Died: May 30, 1937

A lawyer and a zoologist, Madison Grant is best remembered for his belief in eugenics and white supremacy, which he expressed through his best-selling book The Passing of the Great Race. He played a crucial role in the passing of immigration regulations in the U.S. He was also an avid conservationist.

 35 James George Frazer

James George Frazer
3
Famous As: Anthropologist, Writer, Historian, Mythographer
Birthdate: January 1, 1854
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow
Died: May 7, 1941
British anthropologist James George Frazer is best known for his book The Golden Bough, which details his study of ancient cults and myths. He also taught social anthropology at Cambridge. He was also knighted for his achievements and was also made a Fellow of The Royal Society.

 36 Romain Rolland

Romain Rolland
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Famous As: Writer, Playwright, Essayist, Historian, Novelist, Musicologist
Birthdate: January 29, 1866
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Clamecy, Nièvre
Died: December 30, 1944

Romain Rolland was a French novelist, essayist, dramatist, mystic, and art historian. In 1915, Rolland was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature. One of the most important supporters of Josef Stalin, Rolland is also remembered for his significant influence on Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud.

 37 William Graham Sumner

William Graham Sumner
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Famous As: Anthropologist, Political scientist, Historian, Sociologist, Philosopher, University teacher
Birthdate: October 30, 1840
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paterson, New Jersey
Died: April 12, 1910

William Graham Sumner was an American social scientist who held America's first professorship in sociology; he served as a professor of social sciences at Yale. Sumner, who wrote several essays and books on American history, political theory, sociology, and economic history, was one of the most popular and influential teachers at Yale. He also had an influence on American conservatism.

 38 Ernest Renan

Ernest Renan
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 27, 1823
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tréguier, France
Died: October 2, 1892

Ernest Renan was a French Semitic and Orientalist scholar. A multi-talented personality, Renan was also an expert of Semitic civilizations and languages, philologist, philosopher, historian of religion, critic, and biblical scholar. Ernest Renan is credited with writing pioneering and influential works on the origins of Christianity. Ernest Renan is also credited with writing the extremely popular book, Life of Jesus.

 39 Charles Francis Adams Sr.

Charles Francis Adams Sr.
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 18, 1807
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: November 21, 1886

Charles Francis Adams Sr. was an American writer, historical editor, diplomat, and politician. He played a key role during the American Civil War, serving as the US Minister to the UK under Abraham Lincoln; he used his diplomacy to not recognize the Confederacy and keep the British government neutral. He is credited with building Adams National Historical Park.

 40 Georges Sorel

Georges Sorel
3
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: November 2, 1847
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, France
Died: August 29, 1922

Georges Sorel was a French political theorist, social thinker, journalist, and historian. He is credited with inspiring Sorelianism, a support system for his ideologies. Georges Sorel is also credited with inspiring several socialists, Fascists, Marxists, and anarchists. In 1891, Georges Sorel was honored with the prestigious Légion d'honneur.

 41 R. G. Collingwood

R. G. Collingwood
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 22, 1889
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cartmel Fell, England
Died: January 9, 1943

 42 Rahul Sankrityayan

Rahul Sankrityayan
3
Famous As: Linguist, Author, Autobiographer, Biographer
Birthdate: April 9, 1893
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pandaha
Died: April 14, 1963

Rahul Sankrityayan was an Indian freedom fighter and writer. A polyglot, Sankrityayan loved traveling and helped develop travelogue writing as a literary form in India. Dubbed the father of Indian travelogue, Rahul Sankrityayan wrote several travelogues having spent 45 years on travels away from home. In 1963, he was honored with India's third-highest civilian honor, the Padma Bhushan.

 43 Charles A. Beard

Charles A. Beard
4
Famous As: Historian of the modern age, Historian, University teacher
Birthdate: November 27, 1874
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Knightstown
Died: September 1, 1948

Charles A. Beard was an American historian who served as a professor at Columbia University. Beard is credited with writing several influential books, such as An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States which played a crucial role in helping him attain an iconic status within the progressive school of historical interpretation.

 44 Naim Frasheri

Naim Frasheri
3
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: May 25, 1846
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fraşer, Yanya Eyalet, Ottoman Empire (now Frashër, Albania)
Died: October 20, 1900

 45 Domingo Faustino Sarmiento

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento
3
Famous As: Politician, Writer, Journalist, Soldier, Diplomat, Historian
Birthdate: February 15, 1811
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: San Juan
Died: September 11, 1888

 46 Hilaire Belloc

Hilaire Belloc
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 27, 1870
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France
Died: July 16, 1953
British-French writer Hilaire Belloc is one of the most controversial figures of England from the 20th century, owing to the accusations of anti-semitism and marked Catholic influence in his works. Remembered for his Cautionary Tales for Children, he continued to move from place to place, thus depleting his finances.

 47 Wilhelm Dilthey

Wilhelm Dilthey
3
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: November 19, 1833
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Biebrich, Wiesbaden, Germany
Died: October 1, 1911

Wilhelm Dilthey was a German psychologist, sociologist, historian, and hermeneutic philosopher. An ardent admirer of Friedrich Schleiermacher, Dilthey helped revive the former's works on hermeneutics. Wilhelm Dilthey is also credited with teaching future philosophers like Hans Lipps, Eduard Spranger, and Theodor Litt.

 48 Lucien Febvre

Lucien Febvre
3
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: July 22, 1878
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Nancy, France
Died: September 11, 1956

Lucien Febvre was a French historian best remembered for playing a major role in the formation of the influential Annales School of history. Along with his friend and colleague Marc Bloch, Lucien Febvre founded a scholarly journal named Annales in 1929, which became associated with their distinctive style of history.

 49 Ōkawa Shūmei

Ōkawa Shūmei
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 6, 1886
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Yamagata, Japan
Died: December 24, 1957

 50 Prosper Mérimée

Prosper Mérimée
3
Famous As: Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Historian, Translator, Politician, Writer, Novelist, Painter, Playwright
Birthdate: September 28, 1803
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris
Died: September 23, 1870

Prosper Mérimée was a French writer and one of the pioneers of narrative prose, which came to be known as a novella. A multi-talented personality, Mérimée was also a historian and archaeologist; he played a key role in the development of the process of architectural preservation. He was responsible for safeguarding several historic sites, such as the Cité de Carcassonne.